‘Eerie’ scenes as ‘true legend’ farewelled
The rugby league community paid tribute to legend John Sattler after his death, but scenes before Souths Vs Manly showed his true appreciation for the game.
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Sattler was one of the toughest players to ever set foot on a rugby league field. He led South Sydney to four Premierships between 1967 and 1971.
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His real stretch of resistance, however, came in the 1970 Grand Finals, where he played most of the game with a broken jaw.
It’s an act that has entered rugby league folklore.
Sattler’s career spanned 197 games between 1963 and 1972 and included pre-State of Origin era NSW and Queensland games and four games for Australia.
Sadly, Sattler battled dementia in the final years of his life and the game mourned his loss after losing the battle for good earlier in the week.
In the Souths’ first game since the legend’s death, ironically against Manly, whom the Sattlers Rabbitohs defeated in the 1970 decider, the rugby league world was finally able to give Sattler a deserved dismissal.
Legend rest in peace. Photo: Fox Sports
Scott Sattler held it together. Photo: Fox Sports
In the beautiful scenes, a pin could be heard dropping during the minute’s silence before the game, as not even a hint of disrespect could be heard from the crowd.
An emotional Scott Sattler, John’s son and fellow Prime Minister and Queensland representative, paid his respects to the Souths players, shaking hands and sharing hugs with the players before leaving the field.
“Beautifully observed true rugby league legend John Sattler,” said Dan Ginnane on Fox League.
“We have minutes of silence so often, but boy was that really special. Almost eerie.”
Greg Alexander agreed: “What a legend of the game John Sattler is. I met him on numerous occasions, got to play with Scott Sattler and John was the happiest and most respectful gentleman one could meet.
“For someone who hasn’t gotten to see him play live, I found it hard to equate the man off the field with the toughness on the field. A true legend.”
That was a minute’s silence, which was really fitting for John Sattler. Not an ounce of noise at the Accor Stadium. #NRLSouthsManly
— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) March 25, 2023
Nice tribute and minute’s silence for the great John Sattler ahead of @SSFCRABBITOHS v Manly. One of the game’s greats. perfect silence Respect. #nrl#nrlsouthern
— Robert Grasso (@RobertGrasso) March 25, 2023
At the Cowboys and Titans pal’s halftime, Souths coach Jason Demetriou announced the team would wear a half-rabbit logo on their jersey, which made Sattler famous after his logo was torn up for the 1970 Grand Finals.
It was the same game that Sattler played with a broken jaw he sustained in the opening minutes.
Demetriou also confirmed that the players would form an honor guard with Sattler’s family and that there would be a minute’s applause after 13 minutes.
The 13th minute was something special. Photo: Fox Sports
The Souths coach said it’s important to “remember the great man.”
“It’s important for the current players to understand the history of the club and before Christmas we did a Redfern to Heffron tour from our old facility to our new facility and a lot of that was about the past and the players who came before left us and how important this jersey is and how we want to create our own legacy,” he said.
In an interview less than two years ago, Sattler spoke about the infamous moment when his jaw was broken in three places in the first 10 minutes of the Grand Final.
The NRL hardman was furious with Manly Sea Eagles player John Bucknall, who delivered the hit that broke his jaw.
“People said it was broken, but it was actually smashed in three places. The fractures were clean enough to go right through my gums, but I didn’t lose any teeth. He gave me a good beating,” Sattler told The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie.
“I was furious that he was such a weak bastard from the moment he did it until the end of the game. In this grand finale he finally left the field. I remember Freddie Jones going for him when Bucknall left the field.”